All political eyes will be on Wisconsin tomorrow as Governor Scott Walker (R) faces Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) in the most expensive election for public office in Wisconsin history by a wide margin. Some estimate that spending in the race by both candidates and a large number of outside organizations will top $60 million.
Almost every poll released in the closing days shows Walker leading Barrett by a few percentage points, but races such as this one--held at an unusual time and under unusual circumstances are largely exercises in all-important voter turnout operations.
As regular readers of Great Lakes-Seaway News will know, Wisconsin public employee unions led a statewide effort to force a recall of Governor Walker, the Lt. Governor and four members of the State Senate under Wisconsin’s recall law by gathering more than a million petition signatures calling for the recall. The recall effort was launch in retaliation for legislation that Walker pushed through the legislature in Madison that substantially reduced the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public employee unions.
The public employee unions that were successful in forcing the recall were less so in getting their hand-picked candidate through the ensuing Democratic primary. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who enjoyed the endorsement of most of the state employee unions, lost her hard-fought contest to become the Democratic nominee to Barrett on May 8, who announced his third and most recent attempt to win the Badger State’s governorship even before he was re-elected to a third term as Milwaukee’s mayor. Barrett, a former congressman, had lost a previous nomination contest to Jim Doyle and then lost to Walker by five percentage points in 2010.
National Democratic and Republican organizations and political figures have focused on Wisconsin in the last month because both sides know that the stakes are extremely high, for Wisconsin, and as a potential harbinger of the race for control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 2012.
Former President Bill Clinton and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz have stumped for Barrett in recent days and Walker has campaigned with Mitt Romney, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and other GOP luminaries in recent weeks.
Both parties will be spinning the outcome of the Wisconsin contest faster than an airplane propeller after tomorrow’s results are announced because the stakes are so high. For Walker, he will either become a symbol of Republican overreach if he loses or a GOP rock-star if he wins. Barrett will either gain the prize he has sought for a decade in Madison if he wins or he will go down with a third strike at statewide office with another loss. A GOP victory will brighten the eyes of Romney supporters and a Barrett victory will quicken the pulse of President Obama’s campaign team in Chicago. In either case, all eyes are “On Wisconsin”.
Monday, June 4, 2012 at 12:31PM
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